Carillion gets $9M bailout from Alberta to continue winter highway maintenance

A Carillion Canada snowplow clearing Highway 44 in Rivière Qui Barre, Alta. on Monday, January 9, 2016 after a snowfall. Courtesy: Henry Kieftenbeld

The Alberta government is bailing out Carillion Canada to ensure provincial highways continue to be plowed and maintained for the remainder of the winter season.

On Wednesday, the province said it is making up to $8.9 million available to help Carillion Canada continue its highway maintenance operations, pay its employees and keep doing business with suppliers.

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Carillion Canada’s U.K.-based parent construction company — Carillion PLC — went insolvent in the middle of January. Just over a week later, Carillion Canada filed for creditor protection in an Ontario court.

The Canadian branch said its decision to seek protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) was forced by the compulsory liquidation of its parent company when it couldn’t arrange short-term financing.

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READ MORE: Carillion Canada, major road maintenance contractor, files for creditor protection

The Alberta government privatized road maintenance services under the previous Progressive Conservative government. Carillion Canada holds three of eight provincial highway maintenance contracts, which amount make the company responsible for about 43 per cent of Alberta’s highways.

The province said the cash injection ensures there will be no disruption in things like plowing and sanding through to the end of April.

“Keeping Alberta highways safe for travel year-round is our top priority,” Transportation Minister Brian Mason said.

“This funding ensures that snowplowing, sanding and other maintenance will continue on all of our highways. It also means Carillion’s employees and suppliers will continue to be paid.”

The money will also cover outstanding amounts owed to vendors which were incurred during the winter maintenance season.

The province said Carillion controls more than 300 snowplows — approximately half the snowplows working on Alberta highways — and employs about 300 workers during the winter and up to 500 during the summer months.

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Nationally, Carillion Canada employs more than 6,000 people. Its operations include facilities management and maintenance in sectors including oil and gas, health care and aviation, as well as handling road maintenance for 40,000 kilometres of highway in Alberta and Ontario.

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It is also involved in private-public construction partnerships, one of which is currently building a new mental health hospital in North Battleford, Sask.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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